BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - The Delano Police Department requested charges be filed against Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents accused of pursuing a couple involved in a deadly crash nearly a month ago. Delano police said ICE agents lied during the investigation.
According to the investigation report, ICE agents said they didn't pursue the couple's car after the initial stop. Police said surveillance video along the route between the stop and the scene of the crash, tells a different story.
ICE agents stopped Santos Hilario Garcia and Marcelina Garcia Perfecto March 13 on West Cecil Avenue near Kennedy High School. The couple initially stopped, but took off as an ICE agent got out of an unmarked car. According to Delano police, deportation officers Ramiro Sanchez and Dimas Benitez said they continued in the same direction for about 15 seconds, pulled over and eventually continued westbound, but were not pursuing the couple.
Delano police said surveillance video contradicts the deportation officers statements. It was taken from a camera a mile from where officers say they stopped the couple's explorer. It's just about halfway between the locations of the stop and the crash. Police said the video shows the explorer pass by and ten seconds later, two unmarked SUVs with emergency lights activated, follow.
Again, the deportation officers told police they only followed the Explorer for about 15 seconds, but they are seen pursuing it a mile from the stop. That's why Delano police requested charges against the officers for giving false information.
"Based on the discrepancies in the statements provided by the ICE agents, the report was forwarded to the Kern County District Attorney's Office for review, where charges have been requested for violation of California Vehicle Code section 31, "No person shall give, either orally or in writing, information to a peace officer while in the performance of his duties under the provision of this code when such person knows that the information is false." The review by the Kern County District Attorney's Office is still pending."
The investigation report states witnesses said the couple was not being chased at the time of the crash.
It's now up to the district attorney's office. The interim Delano police chief said he expects a decision some time next week.
ICE declined to comment.
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